In the course of the last decade, there has been a growing interest in the term, “throw shade.” The expression — as poignantly documented in Jennie Livingston’s seminal 1990 classic, Paris Is Burning — was popularized in 2009 on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and was later buoyed on shows like The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Braxton Family Values, Married to Medicine, and Love and Hip Hop, among others. Shade, as defined in the film by Dorian Corey, is a more developed form of reading — the curve to the pitch. “To read is to insult imaginatively, in opposition to the blunt gay-bashing taunts of the straight world,” Corey said. “Reading is gay-to-gay sparring.” What’s received less attention, however, is the current and historical context from which this term was made possible. As a result, the term is often overused, misused, and normalized in ways that are disturbing and inaccurate.
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